How Pacifiers Affect Oral Development

Our Dental Blog | Info & tips | 05.22.2023

Pacifiers can be a lifesaver for parents, but did you know that they also have an impact on your child’s oral development? It’s true! We understand the importance and difficulty of keeping track of up-to-date parenting information, so we’ll help you stay informed. Treehouse Dental will explore the effects of pacifiers on oral development and provide helpful tips for parents to minimize the risks.


Keep reading to learn everything you need to know about pacifiers and your child’s oral development.

What are Pacifiers?

First things first, let’s talk about what pacifiers are. A pacifier, also known as a soother, is a rubber or silicone nipple that a baby can suck on. Pacifiers come in different shapes, sizes, and materials. They have been around for centuries, with ancient Greeks and Romans using soft rags or animal skin as pacifiers. Today, pacifiers are made to mimic the shape of a mother’s nipple and effectively soothe a fussing baby.

While pacifiers can provide temporary relief to both baby and parent, there are advantages and disadvantages to using them. On the one hand, pacifiers have been shown to reduce the risk of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS) and help premature babies learn to feed. On the other hand, prolonged use of pacifiers can have negative effects on a child’s oral development.


It really is a fine balance. That’s why we’re going into the details next. If you’re looking for more information on children’s oral development, read our article on more tips here.

How Pacifiers Affect Oral Development

The impact of pacifiers on a child’s oral development cannot be ignored. They can change the shape of a baby’s mouth and teeth, affecting their speech development and causing dental problems down the road. As a parent, understanding the mechanism behind pacifiers will enable you to make better decisions when it comes to their usage.

The constant sucking motion of a pacifier can cause the front teeth to slant outward and create an open bite. An open bite is when the front teeth do not touch when the back teeth are closed together. This can make it difficult for a child to bite into and chew food properly. Additionally, prolonged use of pacifiers can lead to a delay in speech development, as a child may not have the opportunity to practice sounds and syllables.

If your child is breastfed, pacifiers can also have an impact on breastfeeding. If a baby becomes accustomed to sucking on a pacifier, they may have difficulty latching onto the breast and effectively breastfeeding. This can lead to a decrease in milk supply and nipple soreness for the mother.

Best Practices for Using Pacifiers

While it may be difficult to avoid using a pacifier altogether, there are ways to minimize the negative effects of pacifiers on oral development.

Firstly, it’s important to choose the right pacifier. Try to look for a pacifier that is designed to mimic the shape of a mother’s nipple. Also, silicone or rubber materials work best. And it’s best to avoid pacifiers with decorations or attachments, which can be choking hazards.


Here’s another key tip to follow: limit pacifier use. In general, use pacifiers during naps or at bedtime and remove them as soon as your child falls asleep. 

Proper cleaning and maintenance of pacifiers is another big tip. They should be washed with soap and water and replaced every 2-4 weeks. If a pacifier becomes cracked or damaged, it should be replaced immediately! It’s not worth risking your child to a choking hazard.

Lastly, weaning off pacifiers is a process that should begin around 6 months of age. Gradually reduce pacifier use until your child no longer needs it. This can be a difficult process, but it’s important for your child’s oral development in the long run.

Frequently Asked Questions About Pacifiers

Pacifiers are a ubiquitous tool for parents of young children. They can help soothe and calm a baby, but they also come with concerns about how they might affect oral development.

Here are some frequently asked questions about pacifiers to help you make informed decisions as a parent.

When is the best time to introduce a pacifier?

There is no hard and fast rule for when to introduce a pacifier, but most pediatricians recommend waiting until breastfeeding is well established, usually around three to four weeks. This is because early use of a pacifier can interfere with a baby’s ability to breastfeed properly.

How long should a child use a pacifier?

Pediatricians recommend limiting pacifier use to the first six months of life and then gradually weaning a child off of it. Prolonged use of pacifiers beyond the age of two can cause dental problems, such as misalignment of teeth and changes in the shape of the mouth.

How can I wean my child off a pacifier?

The best way to wean a child off a pacifier is gradually. Start by limiting pacifier use to specific times of the day, such as naptime or bedtime, and then gradually reduce the amount of time the child uses it. You can also try offering a substitute, such as a stuffed animal or blanket, to help soothe your child.

Can pacifiers cause dental problems?

Yes, pacifiers can cause dental problems if they are used for too long or if they are not used correctly. Prolonged use of them can lead to misalignment of teeth, changes in the shape of the mouth, and problems with bite alignment. It’s important to use the correct size pacifier and to limit use to the first six months of life.

Learn More Dental Tips With Treehouse Dental

As a parent, it’s important to be mindful of the impact of pacifiers on oral development. We understand the challenge behind staying informed on all the minute parenting details, so we’ve got you covered in our blogs! 

Here are the main takeaways of this article. While pacifiers can be a helpful tool for soothing a fussy baby, they can also cause problems if they are not used correctly. By choosing the right pacifier, limiting use, and gradually weaning your child off of it, you can help minimize the risks. Remember to consult with a pediatric dentist if you have any concerns about your child’s oral development.


Book an Appointment

Your Information

Patient Information

Appointment Information